Guest post: How retailers can avoid the dreaded spam box over Christmas

Paul Ford, VP of Product & Marketing at SendGrid, advises retailers on how to avoid the spam box over Christmas

Paul Ford

It’s a no-brainer that a successful email marketing campaign can go a long way towards boosting sales over the Christmas period. Via email, retailers can showcase new products, promote an unmissable deal and re-engage customers that haven’t bought anything in a while. However, these campaigns can only be successful if they reach the inbox, and this should be a major concern for retailers, as a staggering 20% of legitimate marketing email heads straight to the spam box.

Forrester predicts that by the end of 2014, $144m will be spent on marketing email that never gets delivered. To avoid a needless loss of revenue in the run up to Christmas, businesses should follow some essential steps to ensure that their Christmas marketing campaigns reach the inbox.

Firstly, email providers will often automatically filter out messages that contain common phishing phrases in the subject line and body of email like “please verify your account” and “dear valued customer”, so it’s important to avoid these.

When it comes to formatting your email, it’s important to carefully consider the ratio of text to images. As a rule of thumb, it’s always sensible to include at least two lines of text per image.

In addition, for any HTML email campaigns, be sure to include a plain text version, as without this, your email is likely to hit the spam trap.

In an age where an increasing proportion of recipients open their email on smartphones and tablets, as well as desktop, it’s important to make sure that you email is optimised for different devices by using responsive design templates.

Finally, take care when including attachments. Large attachments should be avoided, as should certain file types. Attachments such as .jpg, .gif, .png and.pdf are all considered safe to send, however, executable attachments, such as .exe, .zip, and .swf, should be omitted entirely.

These steps should be followed in conjunction with targeted, relevant content. If email hits the spam box, it translates to lost customers, lost opportunities and lost revenue. The overarching strategy of any campaign should be to send the right email to the right person at the right time.